10 (plus) Favourite Wildflowers

Urban Meadows Wildflowers Wild. Here.

Oh wow, I've been wanting to do this for awhile but as Rosemary Moco says from Bird and Moon (great cartoons you HAVE to check them out!) my list of "favourites" just keeps expanding!!

It was great to be able to go out and share some of the lovely flora that is still around in the fall that I saw on my Autumn Walk last year.

Every time I go out it's like meeting old friends (am I crazy to say this out loud?) and it just brings such joy to encounter them on walks.  It's starting to get a bit easier to identify some of them out of bloom (Jewelweed, Goldenrod, Celadine, Evening Primrose) but some seem so hidden until it's "their" season (like Asters, Blue Vervain, Yarrow, Cardinal Flower and almost all blooming shrubs!).

I think it's also just fun to "recognize" plants after you've learned their identification.  "Hey!  I've seen you before!"  I find that went I go on nature walks with an expert and I learn the name of a new flower, shrub or tree, afterwards these plants seem to pop up and are more easily "seen" than before.  Hackberry (the tree) was *everywhere* after I could distinguish its lighter green leaves.  :  )


I'm wondering if this list should be ten favourites for each season... it could just go on and on and on... and I feel like I should let you know that there are quite a few "naturalized" plants that I am fond of (you have been forewarned!)

Spring Ephemeral Flower Urban Nature Ottawa

Spring Ephemerals (native) - These can all count as one plant, right??  Walking in the woods at this time is such a lovely outing as there are so many spring flowers such as Trillium (shown above), Trout Lilies, Bloodroot and others!  They provide lovely brighter hues to the grey and brown carpets that are revealed once the snow melts and are the harbingers of warmer weather and colour explosions to come!  Many disappear completely after a month or so (as the term "ephemeral" denotes), so enjoy this show while you can.

Wildflower Perennial Ontario Native Plant Wild. Here.

Canada Anemone (native) - What I love about this plant is its long lasting white bloom and the unique seed that forms afterwards. (I definitely want to invite this one into my garden!)  It's a lovely low ground cover and can be found in various locations but it thrives in sunny, moist conditions so look for it beside streams and lakes and on forest edges.

Beautiful Urban Nature Setting Lowers Stress
- Photo by Viliam Glazduri (InstagramFlickr500 pxContributor to Wild. Here. -

Dame's Rocket - I know, I know, I know, it's invasive.  But I really have to say that I was smitten when we saw it at Macoun Marsh (in Ottawa) blooming en mass under the trees (it was like an experience out of Avatar!) a few years ago.  What do you think?  Yay or Nay?  We were told that it provided shelter/cover for small rabbits - who can say no to that?  And in more recent years I haven't seen it take over the marsh like it did before so perhaps it isn't as dominating as many thought.

Urban Wildflower in Backyard

Annual Fleabane (native) - This flower looks like an aster but blooms in the spring.  It is another plant that gets a bad rap sometimes (as it can spread in sunny areas) but I have added it to my shaded backyard.  Illinois Wildflower notes that fleabanes have an "important role in the functioning of the ecological system" as they are beneficial to many small insects.  A great reminder that there are many layers to a healthy ecosystem!

Small Meadow Rue in Ottawa Wild. Here.

Meadow Rue (native) - Oh the happiness of finding this plant when I'm out in the woods. It's unique leaves stand out (especially in the fall when they turn red) but take note - when not in bloom, it can be mistaken for Columbine.  (Its flowers are not as showy or colourful as the Columbine.) There is a tall version of this Rue that can allow for a definite identification.

Pickerelweed Urban Nature Marsh Aquatic Plant
- Photo by Viliam Glazduri (InstagramFlickr500 pxContributor to Wild. Here. -

Pickerelweed (native) - The name of this plant makes me laugh and seeing it in streams and ponds thrills me to no bits as I know it provides much needed sustenance to so much wildlife.  I like hangout out with it at dusk (a.k.a. Golden Hour) to see who visits, from herons to muskrat to ducks or beavers.*

The Florescence of Blueflower Wild. Here. Meadowflowers

Viper's Bugloss (naturalized) - This one, I'm told, can be a bit of a bully in certain areas, but in my neck of the woods, I haven't seen this as of yet.  This plant had me learning new flower terminology ("inflorescence" + types of inflorescence -wikipedia-) as it had such a unique bloom that all sprouts from one stalk.  And I was happy to see some winged creatures on this wildflower searching out nectar and pollen (and it's specifically known to attract bees - especially one type of specialist mason bee*).

Wildflower Ontario Common Mullein

Mullein (naturalized) - You can think of this plant as the wild version of Lamb's Quarters - soft enough to pet.  It grows a large stalk on which small yellow flowers grow (spike inflorescence - don't you like how I'm working this word in now?), but it's the basal (lower) leaves that offer this tactile pleasure. The other benefit of this plant with its large basal leaves is as a shelter and shade for invertebrates and insects.  I found a toad under one in a friend's garden once!

Curly Dock (naturalized) - To me this seems as such an unloved plant as it has no showy flowers of which people can take note.  So I appreciate seeing it popping up in fields (it is taller than many other wildflowers) and enjoy its long wavy-edged leaves.  Songbirds and larger gamebirds enjoy the seeds*.

Closeup of Wildflower Ottawa Canada

Queen Anne's Lace  (naturalized) - As I mentioned before, this one really surprised me, when I learned it wasn't native.  Especially as I've seen it on many Pollinator Garden lists (being a beneficial flower for butterflies).  I grew up with Queen Anne's Lace and enjoy its delicate umbrella-like flower.  It's a signal of summer for me!  (But watch for "look alike" plants that can be unfriendly!)

Naturalized Urban Meadow Grasses Wild Here

Foxtail grass (naturalized) - There are different species that fall under the common name of Foxtail Grass, as their inflorescence (seed head) all look similar.  It's another "soft to pet" wildflower that is bushy just like a fox tail.  I'd really like to see this one in my backyard garden also. (But if you do go seek this out on a dog walk - avoid the Wild Barley version (Hordeum jubatum) which can be very dangerous to animals - acting like a porcupine quill once it attaches to the animal.  Probably best to avoid any that look like this when you are with a dog!)

Wild. Here. Wildflowers Urban Nature

Blue-eyed Grass (native) - Last but not least (for now) is a very coy, shy and small flower (only about 20 - 30 cms tall) that I am trying to entice into my garden.  I was just told by a friend that it is blooming right now outside the city.  Small short-tongues bees visit this flower*.  What's not to be smitten by, with this winky-eyed delicate bloom?

July Blooms of Sweet Clover Amazing Summer Scent

Oh man... I forgot White Sweet Clover... (naturalized)... when it starts popping up in fields... the smell alone...such summer bliss....

And of course many more to come!

* from Illinois Wildflower website - this website is my "go to" place for all information on "Faunal Associations" for plants.  A.K.A. - what wildlife finds specific plants valuable for food, shelter, etc.

Update to Post (August 2017):  Here is the List of 10 (more) Favourite Wildflowers (Canada)

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